Could WFH become the new BAU?
Suddenly just about the whole world is working from home. And you know what? So far, so good. Nothing has broken. No projects have slipped behind and every meeting has still happened. Just more efficiently and sustainably.
To be honest, I’m probably more productive than ever. I’m not getting dragged into unscheduled meetings or distracted and sidetracked by conversations around me. Even the slight clunkiness of the audio on Teams video conferencing is a bonus. Since only one voice can be heard clearly without breaking up, most attendees stay silent unless they’ve got something pretty important to say. Naturally, the time wasting banter is still there, just shorter and sweeter. Win:win!
No more polluting commute
Better still, I’ve reclaimed the two hours of the day I usually spend commuting to work while polluting the environment. My car has been parked outside my house for the last week. My morning commute now consists of a gentle saunter down 26 stairs instead of a stressful race through increasingly congested streets. Now, I can set off at 8.59 am and be at my desk by 9am.
There’s always been a lot of talk about remote working being the way we’ll all work in the future, but many businesses have still been fairly slow to adopt it as a business model. It’s typically been a concession for those with parenting responsibilities rather than a positive choice for all, that aids productivity. The default being that the presence of everyone in the office is the optimum way to ensure total productivity and collaboration. Yet somehow everything has shifted.
I’m not arguing that remote working is an ideal, or even a superior, way of working. The background crisis is causing loss of life and devastating many businesses. Clearly, the personal, financial, cultural and economic effects could take take years or even decades to recover from. But given that this has been thrust upon us, it’s the perfect moment to trial new ways of doing things.
From the ashes of disaster…
When the smoke finally clears and businesses have the time to reflect on the current crisis, will some of them look at their big, expensive offices and wonder if they’re really all that necessary after all? Maybe the extra agility and flexibility it brings out in their employees and their businesses could be something to be celebrated and even built into their business model.
And who knows, will that almost imperceptible eye-roll when someone announces they’re WFH become a tiny nod of approval? Will lots of workers, having been forced to create a home office set-up, decide the WFH lifestyle isn’t actually as disjointed and threatening as it seemed? Indeed, will many of them decide to make the leap to freelance, consultancy and self-employment?
The travel bans and border and airspace closures are stopping just about all international travel. Big businesses are having to find new ways of working. Rather than flying personnel all over the globe to attend meetings, they’re holding video conferences and working remotely. Again, when the pandemic threat recedes, will those same businesses wonder why they ever used to spend so much on air travel, hotels, taxis and travel expenses? And hasn’t the crisis shown them exactly how they could take quite a few steps closer to their CSR sustainability targets by substantially reducing their carbon footprints?
…grow the roses of success
There’s some interesting evidence that suggests that the lack of traffic on the roads and fewer aircraft in the skies is having a positive environmental effect. A drop in air pollution has been recorded in China’s Hubei province where the original Covid-19 outbreak began. Significant drops in air pollution have also been recorded in cities on lockdown across the world. It has even been suggested by a Stanford University researcher that the improvements in air quality recorded in China may have saved the lives of 4,000 children under 5 years old and 73,000 adults over 70. Potentially significantly more than the likely death toll of the virus in China. Makes you think, doesn’t it?
At Born + Raised we talk a lot about agility and flexibility. Our size and make-up fosters that and the current pandemic has perhaps been the ultimate test. Composed of a tight-knit yet comprehensive team of experts from all the key disciplines – from design to digital to video to copywriting to content – we’ve been able to carry on delivering projects quickly and efficiently without interruption. Many businesses in other sectors have not been so lucky and that’s why we set up ♯SheffieldTogether webpage offering free digital help for local independent Sheffield businesses.
Everyone is helping everyone else get through this however they can. Wouldn’t it be nice if that spirit of co-operation became BAU too?